Five True Statements is exactly what it sounds like, a discussion about the most recent episode of ‘Better Call Saul’ centered around five undisputable statements of fact. Mostly undisputable, at least. I would never lie to you on purpose. Especially not about ‘Better Call Saul.’
1. Kim has two big problems right now
Actually, if we’re being honest here, Kim doesn’t so much have two problems as she has one really big problem, but “nothing is working” is a little too broad to deal with effectively. She needs to break things down into manageable pieces to deal with it all and we need to do that to explain it. So, again, two problems.
The nice thing is that she was able to address both of them, at least temporarily, in one chess move. Moving to Schweikart’s firm will give her the opportunity to do more of the stuff she’s enjoying right now (the public defender work) without sacrificing the thing that actually keeps the lights on (the Mesa Verde work). That’s good. I don’t know if it’ll be enough, long-term, if the PD itch spreads and needs more scratching, but it buys her a little time to figure it out.
The bigger problem, though, is the one that lives with her and is bringing sushi home for dinner. Kim is starting to get the idea that her former business partner and current romantic partner might not work as the future versions of either of those things. I’m not sure yet if taking this job is a move to escape from both or if it’s a last-ditch “maybe doing this one thing will help solve the other thing” heave, but Jimmy’s reaction to it kind of spells out where it’s all headed anyway. They’re headed in very different directions.
She tried, man. She’s still trying. But that cold open — heeeyyyy Chuck — showed how little things have changed. Jimmy might want to do better in fits and starts but he’s still the guy running the Oscar pool during work hours. I don’t think that’s gonna work for Kim.
2. Jimmy McGill is a man balancing on a very thin wire right now
What a swing. At the beginning of the episode, he’s sketching out logos for Wexler McGill and fresh-squeezing orange juice (breakfast remains Jimmy’s tell); by the end, he’s got three street toughs hanging upside down in a piñata warehouse. That kind of tells you everything you need to know about Jimmy right now. He doesn’t do adversity well. Kim telling him about the new job was the trigger this time, and it was a big one because he might see the writing on the wall when it comes to the endgame there, but it’s getting to the point where it could be anything, you know? Like, someday Jimmy’s going to have another fleeting urge to do good and he’s going to go to a diner to grab lunch and figure it out and he’ll ask for a Diet Coke and the waitress will say “Pepsi okay?” and two hours later he’ll be burying a sack of blood-soaked money in the desert. Just how the guy is wired.
That’s the real issue here. Jimmy becoming Saul is inevitable because we know the history but it’s also inevitable because he was always going to become Saul. His internal compass bends towards chicanery and it makes it impossible to walk the straight and narrow. The sad part is that he doesn’t have to do any of it. Kim is making good money. He could see the therapist and put his head down for 10 months. Things are mostly fine, give or take the grieving over Chuck. This isn’t Walter White trying to justify his drug dealing with a cancer diagnosis and a desire to provide for his family. Jimmy is skipping that part and jumping straight to the “because I like it.”
3. At some point, maybe not next week, and maybe not even the week after, but some time soon, Kai is going to do something really dumb
Admittedly, this is not a leap of logic I’m taking here. It was spelled out pretty clearly, from the moment he ignored Mike and finished pouring his beer. He’s on Mike’s list now and you do not want to be on Mike’s list because Mike’s list is never wrong. We saw it last week in the therapy group and we saw it here when Mike gave Kai the classic dismissive Mike up-down look. But even without all of that, even if you only had this screencap to go on, with Kai and his scarf and beer and face, you’d still know. He’s going to do something dumb and Mike will chew him out and think that ends it and then Gus will rip his intestines out in front of everyone because Gus is insane and then it’ll be a whole thing. Enjoy the foosball table.
That’s another thing. Mike is so good at this. Gus was perfectly happy building them little cottages in the warehouse and providing motivation through silence and fear. Mike knows happy workers work harder. Mike also knows that if they want for less they’ll be less likely to get ideas. Remember Jimmy bouncing that ball in the empty cell phone store? Remember what we talked about then, how you can’t give a schemer too much time to think? You see how that’s working out? Yeah. Spring for the recliners and projectors. You can always switch to the silence and fear later.
4. Jimmy’s motivational speech to Howard was rich, all things considered
Get your shit together.
You suffer one little setback and you’re gonna let your entire legacy go?
Wait a second.
Just stop wallowing, okay?
Who are we talking about here?
You’re a shitty lawyer. But you’re a great salesman.
Jimmy might as well have said all this into his mirror. The hair thing was just mean, though.
5. Gus practiced that speech he gave to Hector
I know it. He had to. Have you ever tried giving a speech that long, complete with a story about your youth, just off the top of your head? It’s impossible. You’d be all “Wait. Crap. Did I explain the tree well enough? Let me try again. You really need to understand the tree to get all of this.” Especially with the delivery like that, with the building menace. Gus is cool and calculated and scary but I know he practiced that speech before he delivered it in that hospital room. I like to picture him in the car on the way over there, sitting in the back, looking over his note cards, asking his driver if he should cut the line about smelling like hay. Or like him reading a book titled like “Evil Monologues: How a Simple Story From Your Youth Can Intimidate Your Nemesis.” Something like that.
But I guess that’s not the real takeaway here. And the real takeaway is also not the thing where Gus’s decision to keep Hector alive would eventually lead to his downfall, his own cruelty resulting in half of his face melting off in a nursing home, even if the close-up on the finger that would eventually ding the bell of doom would like us all to believe it. No, the real takeaway here is that Gus was a terrifying child.